Sifnos, The Virgin Toso Nero Festival
The festival of the Virgin Toso Nero is held in the church of the same name at a wonderful spot on the island of Sifnos. It is one of the most important festivals of Sifnos, celebrated on the 17th of August. It can be reached either by following a route marked Path 6 (“Apollonia-Panagia Toso Nero”) or by boat, which leaves from Kamares and arrives at the foot of an uphill path, about 20 minutes walking distance from the church.
The festivals of Sifnos are centuries’-old traditions and are celebrated on the eve of the day that a church or monastery honours the memory of the Saint that it is dedicated to. The picturesque and lively festivals attract many people, who chant and pray – but also cook, eat, drink and celebrate until late into the night in the church’s white-washed courtyards. The host of the festival, called the panigiras, the Sifnos islander who has the honour of keeping the icon of the church in his house for an entire year, returning it on the day of the festival. The panigiras assumes all the expenses of the festival, as well as the care and maintenance of the church.
After the liturgy, the worshippers sit around the “tables of love” to taste revithada, olives, kokkinisto with pasta, and cod during the fasting period. They also drink red wine, served in local clay jugs while toasting to the health of the panigiras. The celebrators stay until the break of dawn, dancing, and singing. The next morning, after the liturgy, the next panigiras takes the sacred icon to his home to keep it for the coming year.